Christmas in America
0 comment Sunday, November 30, 2014 |

Christmas Across Our Country
from An American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art (1975)
The first Christmas celebration held by Englishmen in America was at Jamestown in 1607:
"The extreme winde, rayne, frost and snow caused us to keep Christmas among the salvages where we were never more merry, nor fed on more plenty of good oysters, fish, flesh, wildfowl, and good bread." - From the record of Captain John Smith
Down East: Christmas at Plymouth, 1620
"We went on shore, some to fell timber, some to saw, some to rive, and some to carry; so no man rested all that day." - From Bradford's Record
The Puritans regarded Christmas as a day of solemn worship.
In 1659 the General Constitution of Massachusetts deemed it necessary to enact this law: "Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way as a festival shall be fined Five Shillings."
Christmas became a legal holiday in Massachusetts about the middle of the 18th century, and the day began to be celebrated in the real old English fashion around 1790 or the early 1800s.
There were "Hymns and prayer" in the morning.
Boar's heads and peacock pies decorated the tables and Yule-logs burned in the great halls.
Soap-bubble parties were a popular Yuletide amusement in the 1880s and at apple bees, young ladies found their future husband's initial when the peeling was coyly tossed over a shoulder.
Down South - Back in the 1800s, a few days before Christmas, a load of cotton, behind a six-mule hitch, would be decorated with colored streamers and sent to town to be traded for holiday supplies for the plantation. And river packets carried folks back home for Christmas.
Riding to the hounds on Christmas Day has always been popular.
Christmas services have been held in the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg since 1715.
Open house is the custom at old Southern mansions.
An old plantation legend says that at the stroke of midnight, Christmas Eve, all the farm animals kneel towards the Star.
Fireworks are a Southern contribution to the American Christmas.

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